Reopening issues – 10th May 2021

The abrupt and ill-advised decision of the Chancellor that all CUNY colleges adopt a 60/40% in-person section model for the Fall ’21 semester has, suddenly yet predictably, overthrown months’ worth of planning work by PSC-represented faculty and staff, as well as administrators, throughout the university.  At John Jay, the deliberation and work of many at all levels of the college has been disrupted by the Chancellor’s fiat and further entrenched a leadership style predicated on top-down diktat.  The chancellor makes high-handed decisions based on the governor’s whims, and the staff, faculty, and administrators at the colleges are left to pick up the pieces to assure safe reopening!

The Chancellor’s model will make it difficult for chairs to put together schedules without leaning on some faculty — and particularly, perhaps, untenured and part-time faculty — to adopt a course modality they are reluctant to, and schedule others for the kind of mixed-modality schedule that would double their workload without, it seems, any increase in compensation. We insist that no faculty member should be required, coerced, or pressured to adopt a course modality for any course they are not already prepared for.  The safe reopening standards the PSC developed April 27 appear in full here.

The attempted imposition of the new model of fall campus reopening can bring dramatic problems of potential crowding in the hallways, unsafe conditions in elevators, and classroom spaces of dubious safety and questionable value for in-person learning.  We expect no less than full transparency related to the college’s steps to assure adequate air filtration, and air exchange rate, appropriate campus access, enforced mask wearing, and socially distanced movement through hallways and public spaces, and accommodations for faculty and staff unable for health reasons to return to campus.

It is essential that the college succeed in all of these protections since an increase in face to face instruction is important step for our students, as member Amie Macdonald (Philosophy) urges us to acknowledge.  She relayed that John Jay students have taken D/F/W/INC results in starkly greater rates in every single major, often two and three times greater.  This means our economically vulnerable students are using up financial aid without real progress toward graduation.  It appears further that synchronous and asynchronous courses alike are not preparing students who do pass adequately.  We recognize that some faculty and professional staff experience this differently, but we share her concern about the impact of the pandemic measures on our students’ learning and the basic mission of the college and university.

Contingent Special Issues & Opportunities

The range of current issues for John Jay adjuncts will emerge at Tuesday’s second Adjunct Organizing Meeting, co-chaired by Corinna Mullins and Jonathan Epstein.  That is 5/11 starting at 1:40 pm.  Register here to join together to establish our next steps to challenge the administration’s recent choices to raise class sizes and jeopardize adjunct jobs.

May works well for part-time faculty who are not teaching during the summer to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI). CUNY pays directly to the NYS Department of Labor for all unemployment insurance that goes to adjuncts.  Thus, when adjuncts get UI, they are giving CUNY a consequence for exploiting adjuncts. Here on the PSC website are answers to FAQs about UI, and you can see the most recent recorded Zoom workshop on unemployment, given by Pamela Stemberg, recently elected member of the PSC Executive Council.  Strength in numbers triumphs: if more adjuncts apply, definitely, more adjuncts will get unemployment.  John Jay Adjunct Liaison Jeremiah Perez-Torres, expected at Tuesday’s organizing meeting, can also answer questions about UI.


NYU Graduate student workers organized by the UAW went on strike the week of April 26th after 10 months of bargaining for a new contract.  They are demanding a living wage, full health care coverage and tuition waivers.  We encourage all to join their picket line at 70 Washington Square South, in front of the Bobst Library, 10 am – 2 pm every day.  The PSC will join in support especially tomorrow, 11am -1 pm, but please join when you can. Bring signs. #StrikeonNYU posts on twitter for more details.  (GSOC-UAW 2110).

Working on these for you,

Zabby Hovey, Co-Chair